Monday October 18, 2010
Harrington ends two-year barren spell with win in Johor
JOHOR BARU: Padraig Harrington ended a two-year barren spell with a three-stroke victory in the Iskandar Johor Open at the Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club yesterday.
The Irishman, who held an overnight five-shot lead, was never threatened by the chasing pack and shot a three-under 69 for a four-day total of 268 ahead of second-placed Noh Seung-yul of South Korea, who carded a total of 271.
Harrington picked up the winner’s cheque of US$198,125 for the victory, his first after nailing the USPGA Championships in 2008.
Taiwan’s Lin Wen-tang finished third on 272 after a 68 while Singaporean Mardan Mamat was fourth on 273 following a 68 as well. Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand and Australian Scott Barr shared fifth place on 274.
“Two years is a long time, especially when you’re reminded of it every week you play. It’s nice and very important for me to win. It’s somewhat a monkey off your back,” said Harrington.
“Winning is a habit. Every time you win, it is important but when you haven’t won for a while it does add a bit more emphasis to it. It makes it all the more memorable.”
Showing no ill effects of a neck injury, which almost forced him out of the third round, the 39-year-old in his event debut tightened his grip with three straight birdies from the second hole on a day when conditions were ideal for low scoring following an early thunderstorm, which delayed play for two hours.
Seung-yul and Kiradech, touted as the future of Asian golf, fought brilliantly and got within four strokes of Harrington with matching birdies on 11.
But the Irish star found another gear with birdies on the 11th, 13th and 14th holes to lead by seven strokes. Two bogeys over his closing three holes mattered little in the end for the new champion.
“There’s no doubt that it was my week to win. If you had followed me for the four days, I don’t think anyone would have questioned that my name was written on the trophy before the tournament started,” said Harrington.
“I got the breaks all the way through. I hit some good shots and had a few breaks. Luck of the Irish? I’ll accept that.”
Seung-yul kept up his slim hopes by moving to five-under for the round through 11 holes but a bogey on 13 where he found water with an errant drive ended his fight.
“I tried to follow Padraig. I had a very good start but so did he. I saw him go into the water on the fifth hole. I thought maybe I could catch him a little but he was too good,” said Seung-yul, the reigning Maybank Malaysian Open champion.
“(Hole) 13 stopped me. I was just aiming for second place after that. I missed a few birdies but finished good with three birdies on the last three holes.”
Last year’s champion K.J. Choi of South Korea finished tied eighth while Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie of Scotland finished equal 11th on 278. Retief Goosen of South Africa, winner of the Johor Open in 2008, was a further shot back in joint 14th position.